Nintendo’s long-awaited online service is finally coming to Switch in November, and it’s bringing a slew of benefits — including, importantly, the ability to back up save data in the cloud.
Nintendo Switch Online, as it’s called, also includes free access to a library of classic NES games, with 20 available at the start. Confirmed titles include Balloon Fight, Dr. Mario, Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong, Ice Climber, The Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros., Soccer, Super Mario Bros., and Tennis.
The remaining 10 will be announced at a later date. An unspecified number will also support online play, including what Nintendo describes as a “pass the controller” mode for single player games.
Subscribers in the U.S. will have three options to choose from: Month-by-month for $3.99, three months for $7.99, or a full year for $19.99. There’s also a $34.99 family membership that allows for up to eight Nintendo Account holders on the same subscription.
The service will also allow Switch users take advantage of any game’s online features, as well as the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app, which is used for voice chat. Both of those have been free since the Switch launched in March 2017, but Nintendo said from the start that there would eventually be paid elements of the online service.
The ability to back up saves in the cloud is the most valuable, and arguably the most exciting feature of the new service. Even now, Switch users have no way to protect their save data, which is stored on the hardware itself and can only be transferred — not backed up — to new hardware.
Nintendo has waved away repeated questions on the subject, even as real-life cases of hardware failure, and lost data, have sprung up and prompted users to take drastic measures. All of which is to say, this is an important step in the Switch’s growth.